Is today’s data like yesterday’s oil?

How to achieve success from your digital data  

 Image FT

“Today’s data is like oil” said IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty. Both are difficult to extract and need substantial investment, but once the infrastructure that sustains them is in place, they become very good business.

Smart marketers love to mine data about their customers and audiences. With the use of this intelligence, marketers can uncover how customers use our product, focus on targeting the right customers with relevant information and at a time they are most receptive to it. In refining the data, many have asked “what do we do with so much information?”

To provide insights on this question, Financial Times and Branded hosted an invitation-only Chatham House meeting, with senior marketing leaders from consumer brands and the entertainment industries.


There’s no shortage of data, but what does it do for your business?

All the marketers we gathered agreed that the potential impact that consumer and behavioural data has on their business is huge. However, most of them were at an early stage of understanding how to use it and how to turn data into actionable insights for their business.

IDC, the market research group, predicts CMOs will boost spend on marketing technology from $32.4bn in 2018 from $20.2bn in 2014. This investment comes as advertisers face a challenge in digesting all the different pieces of data.

Current challenge for the marketers in our group:

  • Early stage of understanding how to use data
  • How to align data and business goals
  • Challenges in using audience insights to inform campaign planning


You know where your customers are, but how do you engage with them?

The marketers who joined our forum emphasized that intelligence about consumer are critical, especially as the platforms and the methods of targeting are evolving.  A major concern facing marketers is how to continue to enhance customer experience, online and offline.

McKinsey reported as much as 70 percent of a customer’s buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated. Simply stated, advocacy is being built and traded in a matter of seconds.

Our group identified key areas of improvements that could be made in their current business:

  • Learn to target relevant audiences
  • Use social media as an advocacy platform not a broadcast channel
  • Adding value to customer engagements


Extraction of value from digital data: Are we expecting an ROI too quickly?

In a business world that’s largely driven by returns, it has become increasingly vital to quantify marketing ROI (return on investment). With the amount of data that can be extracted online, there is an expectation from internal stakeholders to report positive ROI.

According to new research by Fournaise, the marketing performance analysts, 80 percent of marketers struggle with being able to properly demonstrate to their management the business effectiveness of their spending, campaigns and activities.

With this in mind, three key points to align ROI expectations:

  • Put in place metrics that matchyour business objectives
  • Understand how paid media and organic reach works in tandem, enabling you to optimise reach
  • Social media have a short life-span enabling you to continuously test all the variables that influence outcomes

Further, social media should be used as an advocacy and engagement platform, it should not be considered in isolation from other advertising spend. A case study by Google and Dove showed a 6 percent lift in sales when using online-only campaigns, while combining traditional advertising (TV) with digital marketing resulted in an 11 percent increase in sales.

Building data insights into your marketing can be a long and arduous process of mining and refinement that all marketing departments are grappling with. Aligning business goals with the data about your target audience will enable you to plan effective strategies to engage with the right audience.


Branded would like to thank the marketing leaders who participated in the event, sharing their insights and insider’s views with us. We would like to thank Financial Times for their generous support of the event. If you would like to be part of our the next invite-only “Matters” InSights series roundtable, please email Kelly on


In this Matters” InSights series, you can also read “ROI of Social Media Marketing.”